St. Paul lawyer makes list of eco-heroes

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2010 - 3:45 PM

Paula Goodman Maccabee cited for her strong environmental stance.

St. Paul lawyer Paula Goodman Maccabee has been named to the Jewish Women's Archive's list of "15 Jewish Women in Environmental Activism."

She was cited for her strong environmental stance while a member of the St. Paul City Council in the early 1990s, her legal representation of the Sierra Club and for serving on the board of directors of Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota.

The list is dominated by people from the East and West Coasts. In fact, the only ones not near an ocean are Maccabee and a Kentucky advocate for sustainable farming.

Based in Massachusetts, the nonprofit Jewish Women's Archive is an online service "devoted to making known the stories, struggles, and achievements of Jewish women in North America." Its Internet address is www.jwa.org.

Swan song

When people say that Robert Strusinski took the University of St. Thomas' liturgical choir a long way, they're not just speaking metaphorically. In 1987, the group, which he started, became the first American choir invited to sing at the Vatican's Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Strusinski, who retired last weekend after 33 years at the university, has done a lot of traveling with the 65-voice choir, including trips to Italy as well as tours to the Holy Land, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Strusinski, 62, also has served as music director at local parishes as well as for the Chimera Theater in St. Paul. He was hired by the university with the charge of creating a new program that combined the activities of the music department and campus ministry. It worked out so well that the school now offers a major in liturgical music.

Although not officially part of his job, he also is credited with starting the university's annual Sacred Arts Festival.

He hasn't decided how he's going to spend his retirement. The university hasn't figured out how it's going to deal with his departure, either. It has named an interim choir director -- a 2005 grad and alum of the choir, Aaron Brown -- for the 2010-11 school year.

A musical bridge

More than 300 singers from metro-area schools, churches and community choral groups will gather at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday for a musical wrap-up to a program joining Minnesota voices with Mexican composers.

In October, composers Jesús Lopez and Diana Syrse spent a week in Minnesota listening to the choirs to get a feel for their kind of music. Then they went home and started writing.

The new music was delivered in January, and Lopez and Syrse returned in March to oversee some of the rehearsals. Now comes the songs' world premiere under the auspices of the VocalEssence choral organization.

The show is at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is free, but tickets are recommended. They are available at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis; Latino Communications Network, 1516 E. Lake St., Minneapolis; the Consulate of Mexico, 797 E. 7th St., St. Paul, and the Neighborhood House, 179 E. Robie St., St. Paul.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

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